View Poll Results: How Many Years Should a Frame Last?

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  • 1 year

    1 1.69%
  • 2 years

    0 0%
  • 3 years

    4 6.78%
  • 4+ years

    54 91.53%
Results 1 to 24 of 24
  1. #1
    unrooted
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    How Many Years Will a FS Frame last?

    With 2-3 days per week and regular maintenance how long do you expect a full suspension frame to last you, with the majority of the rides being of an All Mountain Variety?

    How do you expect it to "break", e.g.: Loose joints, broken stay/tubes???
    Last edited by unrooted; 10-18-2013 at 05:48 PM. Reason: Modified to Read Full Suspension Frame

  2. #2
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    My last hardtail lasted ten years, and someone else is thrashing it now !

  3. #3
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    Frame should last forever, no question!

  4. #4
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    I changed it to read Full Suspension Frame, I too expect hardtails to last virtually forever!

  5. #5
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    Hmm, I'd expect a full-suspension frame to pretty much last forever, too. Am I under an illusion?

    Also brings up the question of frame material. Hopefully CF lasts a long time, cuz I just bought one!

  6. #6
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    My Norco was 5 years old and it got retired. Only reason it got retire was the derailiuer hanger tabs on the frame broke out. I got a new frame intended to still fix it but the new bike is so much better its wall art now.
    13 Banshee Rune, Pushed Fox 36Float RC2, I9 Blunt35's

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  7. #7
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    Depends on how it is ridden, and how it is maintained.
    Most people don't have a clue when their own bikes are telling them to listen.
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

  8. #8
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    It's not going to last forever, just like a hardtail won't last forever. Ideally they will hold up to enough cycles to never wear out in your lifetime, but cycling the main frame tubes gets a lot more attention than cycling a pivot bolt or some interaction between two "less important" parts of the bike. There are other ways to break bikes too, like running too much exposed seatpost. Note I didn't say "short" seatpost, you can have plenty of insertion, way over the minimum, and still break the frame, because you put a longer seatpost on there than designed, which is simply a bigger lever, and with a big enough lever, you'll break stuff. Lastly, there are the one-time over-stress events, again the tubeset might be able to handle a certain amount, but all points in the welds may or may not and at some point you might exceed what the framset can handle. After that point it will fail, but usually not right away. The exceedence created a micro-crack that will continue to fatigue and grow with cycles, until being noticed or causing catastrophic failure.

    So all that said, there are bikes that are designed to be ridden year after year, and there are "disposable" bikes that don't hold up much at all. The difference between the two used to be pretty big, even 5 years ago, but over the last 10 or so the major manufacturers have gotten much better. I had several turner frames and they were a good example of this philosophy. They used journal bearings (bushings with greaseports) that were much more laterally-rigid than ball-bearings, they were closer to the ideal engineering solution because suspension pivots don't rotate all the way around like a BB or wheel does, so limited-rotation pivots don't typically see the same kind of bearings as the other areas on a bike. These turner pivots had grease-ports and you just shoot them full of grease every once and a while (season or so). I used these bikes for years without "going through" any bushings. These aren't the crappy type speced on fox shox for example. Many of the older single-pivot designs were also very hard on the main pivots, despite having big pivots, the elevated-chainstay designs like Santa Cruz Heckler, Superlight, old Bullit an others, allow for quite the torsional load to be put on the rear, because there's a huge lever arm. So if you hit something off-camber, it would flex the rear end quite a bit, meaning the shock has to take up some of the load, but also wearing the pivots faster. This type of bike usually wore through shocks pretty fast and sometimes pivots. Manufacturers have gotten better with this and these designs are few and far between. Pivots in general have gotten better, most use bearings that can be gotten at a local bearing-supply shop. The turner journal bearings require more precision to implement, due to the tolerances necessary, so cost is sometimes an issue, but Santa Cruz and others have figured out that this is no place to skimp, so again, usually this is much better than years past.

    Other areas like the linkages and shock connection are another area where you used to see a big difference. It used to be that manufacturers used a big long bolt to go through the linkage and top of the shock. This allowed for a lot of leverage to be placed on the bolt, which would eventually bend the bolt. This is bad enough, but what would also happen is that it would wear the interface of the linkage, create play in there, wear the shock bushings, also creating play, allowing the shock/bike parts to kind of slam together due to the free-space, also creating even more play. This means that a $2000 frame may turn into a piece of junk just because the shock mounts/pivots wore out. This part of a bike should be designed well. Luckily this has happened with most manufacturers. Rocky Mtn was one of the first to proclaim this with "3d" linkages, but just about every manufacturer does it now.

    Then there's shock setup. You should never "feel" the shock bottoming, even though it should bottom occasionally. If you "feel" it bottoming, you are transferring a LOT of force to the frame that it wasn't designed for, even if it doesn't seem like it.

    Of course, there have been frames in the past that I've just avoided completely. It seemed like Gary Fisher never could design an FS bike to save his life. Sure, he could do hardtails, but so many of his FS bikes cracked and failed it was beyond what I'd consider reasonable. Cannondale did some big damage with their Raven and 1st generation Jekyll bikes. They already had the "crack n fail" name, but the Jekyll especially solidified this, as many people went through quite a few frames. Niner can't seem to figure out why some of their bikes crack or which ones are affected, although there seems to be a problem. Even Turner has had a few issues, but they quickly redesigned a few key things and then made it good with the owners by giving them the redesigned parts. The point, without drawing it out too excessively, is that sometimes they do make errors and design things incorrectly. Whether it's under-specing the bushings or a flaw in the chainstay, the end result is pretty much the same, a useless frame. The more you pay, generally the better the quality and design AND support, but these days the major manufacturers are pretty darn close. So much depends on the rider, so you can't go completely off arbitrary numbers, but as a minimum I expect a frame to last several seasons, proportional to how much I paid for it.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  9. #9
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    Depends on my luck and how many bad crashes I have. Under normal use I'd expect a frame to last at least 5 years since I'm only 150 lbs and I know how to flow and ride smoothly, but at times I have runs of bad luck and **** happens crashes where I go through frames like candy.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by unrooted View Post
    With 2-3 days per week and regular maintenance how long do you expect a full suspension frame to last you, with the majority of the rides being of an All Mountain Variety?

    How do you expect it to "break", e.g.: Loose joints, broken stay/tubes???
    Most frames break in the rear triangle. That's where I expect mine to fail if it does. I had an Ellsworth Truth crack through the chain stay yoke. I have seen three Yeti's break there and two GF's several Trek's in the same place. The main frame broke on my Ellsworth a year after the stay broke. So on my Nomad C I think it will fail after years of use at the dropouts or pivots. I have the 10x135mm dropouts with the axle contacting the carbon directly. The lower pivots strike rocks all the time. Its pretty stout in the front. As I browse the SC forum the failures I see are rear triangles or pivots.
    Narrow is the path to life, few are those who find it.

  11. #11
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    I have warrantied half the bikes I've owned. Frames break, just the way it is. Like people have/will point out too many variables, this is a YMWV question.

  12. #12
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    YMWV=yellow monkey with virus? Yesterday my wife veered? Your mother was vulnerable? Yay my whiskeys vermouth? Yaks might witness violence???

  13. #13
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    How Many Years Will a FS Frame last?

    Quote Originally Posted by unrooted View Post
    YMWV=yellow monkey with virus? Yesterday my wife veered? Your mother was vulnerable? Yay my whiskeys vermouth? Yaks might witness violence???
    Assuming that you weren't being facetious, YMWV=your mileage will vary. YMMV is more commonly used (YMMV=your mileage may vary). But given the topic at hand, YMWV is probably more accurate

  14. #14
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    Oh, didn't know what it was. Also it seems more like a YMWV answer than question.

  15. #15
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Assuming you mean "before the the frame breaks", anything under 5 years I would consider defective if used within the intended purpose.

    Of course, you might be replacing bearings during this time.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  16. #16
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    I'm riding a 2004 Santa Cruz Blur right now that I bought as a bare frame in mid-2012. It looks like it's been ridden extensively on rocky trails, judging by the scrapes in the powdercoat.

    I don't know if these are the original bearings or linkages. What I do know is that the rear triangle is snug, with no noticeable slop or play, so whatever is on there is in good order.

    In the past 15+ months I've put 150-200 hours on it including a day of lift-serviced downhill in Colorado. It's working fine so I'd say my vote is 4+ years.

  17. #17
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    One of my three trail bikes is a 2005 Ellsworth Joker single-pivot. It's still riding like new, with one pivot bearing change about 3 years ago.
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  18. #18
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    until it breaks.

  19. #19
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    YMWV is a definite. I'm a big clyde, 6'2'' 245#s and of the 20+ bikes I've had over the past 6 years, most only last 6 months before a chainstay or something goes. I don't buy used cause I need the warranty.

    That said, the last 4 I've purchased have been fine over 12-18mos. of hard riding. Either I've become smoother, or quality control and design has just gotten better. Which is possible given hydroforming and refinement of suspension designs and geometry.

    Also, riding within application is a big piece. Most bikes go a lot further than their riders know they'll go, but when you push the bike's limit, you'll eventually find it (progression though!). On my FR and DH Sleds, as long as I'm not riding like an idiot charging dumb lines or big drops to flat, the bikes and purpose built components have held for years and my Knolly Vtach is now Wall Art, retired only because I wanted a faster DH rig (Podium).

    Everything breaks eventually though and best way to prolong life and spot things before they're issues is a good maintenance habit and regular equipment check before/after riding.

  20. #20
    unrooted
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    Lets say I buy a brand new Banshee Prime, put 180mm rotors on it, take 4 foot drops on a regular basis (say 3 rides a week, 5 drops per ride), I get into 1 "bad" wreck per season.

    No lift access riding, all "earn your turns", but still lots of mileage at Mammoth, Tahoe and Bootleg.

    Would you expect 3+ years of service with proper maintenance?

    What kind of maintenance is necessary, and if not done would result in damaging the frame: new bearings every year, BB shell cleaned and greased 2-3 times per year, headset checked for tightness, anything else?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by unrooted View Post
    I changed it to read Full Suspension Frame, I too expect hardtails to last virtually forever!
    My record for breaking a frame is three hours, bought it, rode it out the shop, managed to take the drive side dropout clean off the seat stays by 2pm the same day by crashing onto a rock. It was a 2006 Spesh Hardrock pro and the shop was Keswick MTBs, they nearly all died of laughter.

    Other than that, Prophet MX lasted 6 years (crash damage), On One Summer season just under 2 (crash damage again), Diamondback Response 4 years (given away), Diamondback M40 six years (given away).

    My two current frames are eighteen months (FS Cotic) and 2 1/2 (steel hardtail), both still fine. Five years hard use on any mtb frame will wear it out, whether it fails or not from then on is largely a question of luck (ie, not crashing).

  22. #22
    memento mori
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    Had a 2004 Turner Burner seat tube break after three years. Replaced it with a leftover 2006 epic in late 2007 ,broke the chain stay after three years. Broke a used EWR owb 29er after one season. So three years is about my breaking point.

  23. #23
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    Both my of my FS frames have broken at the 5 year mark. Both at various points on the front triangle. I only weigh 150 lbs but I charge very technical trails.

    I have learned that every component on a bike should be considered disposable.

  24. #24
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    I bought a used 2006 Nomad back in 2010. I've ridden it pretty hard including trips to the bike park a few times a year. It's still going strong with regular maintenance. It's even been bounced down talus fields.

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